If you're caught speeding, you could be offered the option of attending a speed awareness course instead of being fined and getting points on your licence.
Speed awareness courses are four to five-hour long education sessions for people caught speeding. They're offered as an alternative to points on your licence. It’s like going back on an intensive, theoretical driving lesson where you’re retaught the dangers of speeding or dangerous driving.
They're offered by most regional police forces for either first-time offenders or for drivers who’ve committed lesser offences.
If you’re offered the course, you don’t have to go on it – you could pay the fine and accept the points instead.
Not everyone who speeds will be offered a place and the exact criteria depends on the police force dealing with your offence.
You’ll only be eligible to attend a speed awareness course if:
For example, in a 30mph zone, this means anything between 35mph and 42mph, and in a 70mph zone it means anything between 79mph and 86mph
In any other circumstances you'll receive a fixed penalty notice, a summons and fine, and/or a minimum of three points on your licence.
For serious speeding offences, 10% plus 9mph over the limit, you’ve every chance of being taken to court.
Speed awareness courses have a strong emphasis on education and engagement. You won't be patronised, told off or subjected to endless road safety videos.
There’s no test at the end, but you might be quizzed on your knowledge and challenged on how you can build on it.
They encourage defensive driving and increased awareness of the obstacles and dangers drivers face every time they hit the road.
They’ll also remind you that you've not had any other driver training or refresher courses since you originally passed your test.
Speed awareness courses are run by independent, regional bodies who work with local constabularies. The courses are regulated by the National Association of Driver Intervention Providers.
Each course has its own fee, but they’re usually around £100.
If you're given a fixed penalty notice (FPN) the fine is £100 if you plead guilty and pay it on time.
If you don't, or if you get issued with a court summons instead of a FPN, the fine depend on:
The minimum fine is £100 and the maximum is £1,000 (or £2,500 on motorways).
There are three main bands for speeding fines; A, B and C.
Fine: 25-75% of weekly income
You'll be placed in Band A if you're caught speeding between one and nine miles per hour over the speed limit.
Your fine will be between 25% and 75% of your weekly income, as well as three points on your licence.
Fine: 75-125% of weekly income
Disqualification: seven to 28 days
You'll be placed in Band B if you're caught speeding between 11 and 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.
Your fine will be between 75% and 125% of your weekly income and up to six points on your licence or face disqualification for up to 28 days.
Fine: 125-175% of weekly income
Disqualification: seven to 56 days
You'll be placed in Band C if you're caught speeding more than 21 miles per hour over the speed limit.
Your fine will be between 125% and 175% of your weekly income, as well as six points on your licence or face disqualification for up to 56 days.
Fine: 200-700% of weekly income
You’ll only be placed in band D, E or F in certain circumstances. For example, if you have prior convictions, are caught speeding near a school, or while towing a caravan or trailer.
Sometimes, speed awareness courses cost more than the £100 FPN. But it’s not just the cost of the fine.
Having points on your licence will push your insurance premiums up. Depending on the conviction, your points will stay on your licence for at least four and, in some cases, up to 11 years.
But if you accept a place on a speed awareness course, your licence will remain point-free.
You don't need to tell your insurer you’ve been on a speed awareness course, unless they ask you directly, for example asking you to list any speed awareness courses attended while you’re getting quotes for car insurance.
Usually, insurers will only want to know if you've received points on your licence for a motoring conviction or fixed penalty notice.
The police and local authorities don't inform insurers about speed awareness courses either. And you won't be asked about them when you compare car insurance quotes with us.
"Opting for a speed awareness course means that the police don't record your speeding offence as a conviction, but it's possible your insurer might still ask whether you've attended one when you get a quote for a new car insurance policy," says Gocompare's Ryan Fulthorpe.
Some insurers will view your attendance on a speed awareness course as a risk factor when calculating your premiums, others won’t.
If an insurer hasn't asked whether you've attended a speed awareness course, then they can’t use it to calculate your quote. You won’t be asked by us, and the insurers on our panel haven’t asked us to add it to our quote process either.
Insurers view driving convictions very differently though – they all take it seriously. You’ll be asked about any driving convictions you’ve had in the last five years when you get quotes with us. Not telling us to get cheaper insurance is a bad idea. If you ever need to claim, and your insurer finds out, they’ll probably cancel your insurance and refuse to pay out.
Avoiding speed awareness courses and speeding tickets is the best option. You’ll be safer and better off:
You're less likely to run late and find yourself rushing to get where you need to be
Maintaining a constant speed will also increase your mpg
Leave yourself enough time to account for any traffic or diversions
Stay aware of road signs informing you of speed changes. Remember that the national speed limit is 60mph on single carriage roads, and 70mph on double carriage roads and motorways
Many navigation apps display the speed limits where you're driving - these aren't always up to date, so keep an eye out for road signs too